According to Health Include, Sri Lanka is a multicultural country with an abundance of festivals and religious festivities. Since the dates of holding far from all of them are repeated from year to year, it is better to check them with the locals. Often the most exotic celebrations are held by members of a small religious group or village community. Be prepared for the fact that visiting such events is available only for “their own”. Fortunately, the culture of Sri Lanka is so rich that there are enough other friendly holidays for everyone.
Most popular holidays and events
- Esala Perahera (July-August) – or the Tooth Festival in Kandy is celebrated for 11 days and ten nights. The solemn procession, in which musicians, jugglers, elephants, standard bearers, representatives of castes participate, is a tribute to the Buddhist relic – the tooth of the Buddha, which is kept in the local temple.
- Duruthu Perahera (January) – a festive procession in the suburbs of Colombo – Kelaniya, dedicated to the first visit of the Buddha to Sri Lanka. Elephants, giant Buddha statues and unusual music create an impressive performance.
- National New Year (second name – Alut Avurudu) April 13-14 is a family holiday. An excellent opportunity to get acquainted with the life and culture of the Sri Lankans, especially if you are invited to a homemade dinner. What not to do in Sri Lanka ? Refuse invitation!
- Vesak (May) – on this day, the Buddha visited the country for the third time, and after a few years on the same day he went to Nirvana. The main activities take place in and around Buddhist temples.
- Buddha Purnima (full moon date at the end of April, May) is the day when the Buddha was born. Temples are decorated with lights and flowers, and there is jubilation among the locals.
- The Hindu festival Vel (July-August) takes place in Colombo, this is a celebration of Skanda – the god of war. Decorated chariots with deities, traditional Indian music, exotic dances and rituals attract tourists from all over the world.
- Kataragama Perahera (July-August) is also dedicated to the god Skanda. The city of Karatagama welcomes pilgrims even from India. At night, you can watch the main ceremony – walking on fire.
- Mawlid al-Nabi (May-June) – Birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. An important date for local Muslims when festive processions take place.
- Ramadan (May-June) is the holy month of Muslims, which ends with Eid al-Fitr. It is splendidly celebrated in mosques and in the home circle.
- Independence Day (February 4) – accompanied by solemn parades, fireworks and performances.
There are few countries in the world where almost every day is a holiday. These are the cultural characteristics in Sri Lanka. Representatives of different religions add their celebrations to the calendar: Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Christian. Then every nationality living in the state “contributes”: Sinhalese, Tamils, Larakalla, burghers, Veddas. In addition, many national and secular holidays are celebrated here. Finally, every full moon is a Buddhist poya meditation holiday, when all bars and entertainment venues are closed, and the sale of alcohol is prohibited.
During national holidays, most businesses, banks, souvenir shops do not work. The flow of public transport is decreasing, and some flights are completely canceled. In addition to Independence Day, non-moving holidays are May 1 and December 25. The rules of conduct in Sri Lanka are simple – respect local customs and have fun!
Sri Lanka: Money and currency of Sri Lanka
The official currency of Sri Lanka is the Sri Lankan rupee (LKR). It is issued in “round” denominations:
- 10, 20, 50 LKR – small money;
- 100, 500 LKR – paper notes up to a thousand;
- 1000, 2000, 2000, 5000 LKR – large banknotes.
The small change of the island of Ceylon is cents. Small change of 1, 2 and 5 cents is often used. But pennies with a face value of 25 and 50 cents are rarely found in everyday life.
Before the trip, you should find out which currency in Sri Lanka is the most profitable for exchange. The Sri Lankan rupee is stable, its rate fluctuates rarely and slightly. For 1 USD they give 180-185 LKR, 1 EUR can be exchanged for 200-203 LKR. To get 10 LKR, you need to pay 20-22 KZT. True, tourists are not advised to take tenge with them to the resort: there may be difficulties with the exchange.
Are you looking for a profitable exchange of Sri Lankan rupees? The most attractive rate is offered by private exchange offices. But it is better to lose a small amount on the transfer from dollars or euros to the local currency, but you are guaranteed to get real banknotes. Currency exchangers in the markets and small exchangers can give false papers to a gaping tourist, so we recommend changing money only in banks and other official institutions.
Please note that it is difficult to find exchange offices in parts of the island remote from the capital. Stock up on rupees in Colombo: it’s cheaper than paying foreign currency in Sri Lanka. The hotel can accept USD from you to pay for your stay, but change will only be given in LKR, and the exchange rate will be lower than the official one. Paying with dollars in shops, restaurants or markets is doubly unprofitable: traders value the currency in their own way, and always not in favor of the buyer.
Difficulties may arise when using a bank card, Sri Lanka is considered a high-risk country. It is worth notifying your bank about the desire to use a credit card on vacation, otherwise the account may be blocked. Also note that not all ATMs on the island accept Visa and MasterCard cards.
The import of currency into Sri Lanka is unlimited, only the amount of more than 15,000 USD is subject to declaration. If you have more than 5,000 LKR left at the end of your trip, exchange it for dollars to avoid confiscation.
Sri Lanka: Sri Lankan Cuisine
Features of Sri Lankan cuisine
In terms of taste and cooking recipes, the national cuisine of Sri Lanka is similar to South Indian cuisine, while Chinese and Thai are inferior only in variety, but not in spiciness.
Restaurants serve rice with curry sauce, vegetables and herbs, fish, and seafood on the table. Less common in cooking is the preparation of meat and poultry.
Most of the local dishes are based on vegetable ingredients such as corn, eggplant, lentils, onions and various legumes. Therefore, Ceylon is considered a fertile land for vegetarians. And the Sri Lankans are very fond of fried food, so food is traditionally cooked on fire in special earthenware or metal utensils.
Another essential ingredient is added to the national dishes of Sri Lanka – shavings, butter and coconut milk. The food is richly flavored with spicy hot spices. That’s why when ordering a dish, check with the waiter how spicy the taste sensations will be on a scale of 10. Even “fresh” food, according to local residents, will make a European tourist “boil”. To soften the effect of chili peppers, seize lunch with a slice of bread.
A lot of fruits grow on the island, therefore, in addition to vegetables and herbs, all kinds of combinations with the addition of tropical fruits are used for cooking. The Sri Lankan menu includes fried bananas, pickled mangoes, pineapples with salt and black pepper. A delicious curry is made from jackfruit seeds.
What to try from food in Sri Lanka on the first and subsequent visits? Start with authentic dishes and desserts:
- Kiribat . A frequent guest in the morning menu of hotels is a dish of rice cooked in coconut milk. It has a delicate taste, reminiscent of pudding. A more exotic version is served with chili dressing, fried onions and lemon juice.
- Roti . The traditional daily food of the Sri Lankans is rice cakes, in which all kinds of fillings are wrapped – from a mixture of peppered vegetables to a fruit platter with condensed milk.
- Ambul tyal. Curry fish with a slight sourness. The meaty carcass is marinated in a mixture of garlic, turmeric, black pepper, pandan leaves, then stewed in a clay pot with the addition of dried gorak, which gives the dish a pleasant sour taste.
- Hoppers . Rice flour pancake with coconut milk and palm wine, also called appa. It is prepared in a special wok pan, therefore it has the shape of a bowl with a thick bottom and crispy edges. Often served with scrambled eggs.
With what to eat in Sri Lanka, we decided. What to drink? Try traditional milk tea. However, the alcoholic drink arak made from coconut palm flowers is very strong, so taste it with care. Lassi – a cocktail of yogurt, fruit, sugar, spices, cream and lightly salted ice cream is a great refreshment in hot weather.